For some of us, the end of the year may be when we become most aware of the disappointment of seemingly squandered opportunities, unredeemed mistakes, and failed attempts at reform.
But we learn in the Bible that, in reality, man is spiritual, the reflection of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27), and so can never be separated from Him. This means our heavenly Father-Mother, God – divine Truth, Life, and Love – is always here to give us the wisdom and intelligence we need to rise above the past, correct mistakes, learn lessons, and illuminate our present with the beauty, health, and integrity that is the right of God’s children.
“Defeat need not follow victory,” Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science and The Christian Science Monitor, points out. “Joy over good achievements and work well done should not be eclipsed by some lost opportunity, some imperative demand not yet met” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 134). We are not, as we seem to be, physical beings subject to sins and setbacks of various kinds. As God’s spiritual ideas, we reflect an eternal progression of perfect good. “Truth, Life, and Love will never lose their claim on us,” Mrs. Eddy states emphatically (Miscellany, p. 134).
A woman who met Christ Jesus unexpectedly had reason to doubt that God cared about her at all. She had been caught committing adultery and taken by the scribes and Pharisees to be stoned to death, in accordance with their theology (see John 8:3-11).
But Jesus had a different kind of theology, one based on a God who is divine Love, a God who redeems and saves humanity. As a way to expose the hypocrisy behind the accusation and sentence, he suggested that those without sin start the stoning. This challenge effectively precluded the punishment the accusers had in mind, and when they had left the scene and no one remained to condemn the woman, Jesus told her that he did not condemn her either. However, he sent her on her way with a compassionate warning: “Go, and sin no more.”
Jesus evidently saw her true, spiritual nature right where others saw a hopeless sinner, and this understanding enabled him to free her from the cruel sentence and direct her in a better way, a way that would help her see and live up to her own spiritually pure nature. His interest was not in punishment but in healing (though facing up to and rectifying wrong thoughts and actions is a key part of this).
As we look back on this year, we, too, have the precious love of Christ to help us rise above mistakes and failures, whether big or small. The message of the Christ comes to teach us who we really are as God’s children – perfect and joyously free – and to liberate us from past transgressions, enabling us to repent and reform.
When we consider the state of our world, it can be tempting to be discouraged. But our own advancement in spiritual understanding brings God’s redeeming love into our experience and helps humanity make the progress it needs to make. With patience and persistence during our own and others’ struggles and setbacks, we can know – and show forth more and more in our lives – the eternal government of God’s goodness, and our own goodness as God’s child.